A new policy announced by Auckland council has left over 800 Auckland restaurants with two weeks to make sure their footpath dining areas are smokefree.
The new policy is part of Auckland Council’s Smokefree Policy 2017-2025, which identifies how Council will support the national goal of being smokefree by 2025. The policy was fist implemented in 2013, which saw a smoking ban in all council-operated parks, playgrounds, reserves and other community facilities. The new areas identified in the Implementation Plan, to be rolled out this month, include plazas, civic squares, shared spaces, urban centres, beaches and al fresco dining areas.
The move is being supported by the Cancer Society and Hapai Te Hauora, but some players hospitality industry is worried about the impact the ban will have on businesses with footpath dining areas.
According to figures, there are 4500 restaurants in Auckland, of which 800 have footpath dining areas. The restaurants have a street trading licence, which essentially means they lease the footpath from the council. Popular establishments such as SPQR and Chapel Bar in Ponsonby would be affected by the change, requiring them to police smokers in their outdoor areas.
Michaela Slovakova, manager of SPQR, said that the change will definitely affect business. “Smokers will often request outdoor seats if they want a cigarette with their glass of wine and tapas,” she said. “If they can’t get that here they will go somewhere else where they can.” The worry for these businesses is that they will lose customers to venues with internal courtyard areas, such as Long Room or Freeman & Grey, which are not affected by the changes.
However Marisa Bidois, CEO of the Restaurant Association, cited a survey run by the association showing that the majority of restaurants were not fussed by the ban. “We surveyed our Auckland members and most did not seem to have a problem with the proposed changes, with many saying the number of smoking customers had reduced significantly over the last few years,” she said. “70 percent of our Auckland members who participated in the survey supported a ban.”
While smoking will no longer be allowed, vaping is still acceptable under the new Council rules.